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Love in Shakespeare’s As You Like It

Love in As You Like It

Throughout the centuries, men have pondered many great questions. Among these is the question: “What is love?” There is no doubt that the greatest name in English literature, Shakespeare, sought to answer this question for himself. Indeed, Shakespeare recorded his answer in many of the sonnets and plays he wrote, including As You Like It. As Shakespeare learned in seeking to answer this question, love is many things, which in this play he observes through the characters of the play, but most directly through Silvius:

It is to be all made of fantasy,

All made of passion and all made of wishes,

All adoration, duty, and observance,

All humbleness, all patience and impatience,

All purity, all trial, all observance … (V.ii).

In this play, Shakespeare associates love with many characteristics. Love is often associated with selflessness in this play. Part of the answer to the question of love is also selflessness. And an important part of love is truth. Love embodies all of the greatest characteristics of a person: truthfulness, selflessness, and faithfulness.

Part of love is selflessness. Throughout the play, many of the characters demonstrate selflessness which in turn reflects their love for one another. Orlando is one such character. He and the ever-faithful Adam are wandering through the forest of Arden, for Adam had warned Orlando of certain death. Orlando’s elder brother, Oliver, had harbored a deep hatred towards Orlando, a hatred which had grown to immense proportions. If Orlando had his home, he would have been killed. Adam was able to persuade Orlando to flee, and now they are in the forest. Once here, though, Adam can go no further, for his is but an old man. “I die fo…

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…”‘Strange Events’: Improbability in As You Like It.” Shakespeare Studies. 4 (1968): 119-124.

Brown, John Russell. “Love’s Order and the Judgement of As You Like It.” Twentieth Century Interpretations of As You Like It. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Lifson, Martha Ronk. “Learning by Talking: Conversation in As You Like It.” Shakespeare Survey. 40.2 (1987): 93-98.

Salinger, Leo. Shakespeare and the Traditions of Comedy. London: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Hypertext (HTML) Document, [date not supplied].

Vaughn, Jack A. Shakespeare’s Comedies. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1980.

Wilson, John Dover. Shakespeare’s Happy Comedies. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1962.

Essay on the Failure of Language in Malcolm and On the Road

The Failure of Language in Malcolm and On the Road

John Clellon Holmes in his essay “The Philosophy of the Beat Generation” characterized his young contemporaries as deeply spiritual; to him, the very eccentricity of the fifties with their characteristic sexual promiscuity, drug addiction, petty criminality, and heterodox forms of self-expression was an attempt to assert one’s individuality in the atmosphere of pervasive conformity of that Golden Age. And judging by the literature of this era from the distance of four decades one might conclude that incessant search for one’s true self was, indeed, what this time was all about. The shaping of identity of a young protagonist (or its failure) is the dominant motif of the two outstanding works of the period–James Purdy’s Malcolm and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, published in 1959 and 1957 correspondingly; their central characters, Dean Moriarty and Malcolm, severed from the primal source of identity–their fathers, are on a quest to regain the touch with that most fundamental aspect of their individuality.

Defining oneself in relationship to language is an essential part of this quest. There is a certain magnetism about Malcolm and Dean that wins over hobos, billionaires, chanteuses, and bohemians alike; but whatever the nature of their charm might be, it is not linguistic. Indeed, both Malcolm and Dean are at odds with standard English. Malcolm’s verbal innocence makes him a foreigner to any circle he finds himself in; the pattern corruption in the novel, therefore, requires that his mentors introduce him to the vocabulary which stands for yet another aspect of the wickedness they are to “break him in.” This is an arduous task, given the extent to which Malcolm is a…

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…y appropriated, were the heroes of the generation (Krupat 407). Purdy’s novel, on the other hand, denies his Everyman a father, humanity its God, and the world any meaning.

Works cited

Adams, Stephen D. James Purdy. London: Vision, 1976.

Holmes, John C. “The Philosophy of the Beat Generation.” On the Road. Text and Criticism. By Jack Kerouac. Ed. Scott Donaldson. New York: Penguin, 1979. 367-79.

Kerouac, Jack. On the road. Ed. Scott Donaldson. New York: Penguin, 1979.

Krupat, Arnold. “Dean Moriarty as Saintly Hero.” On the Road. Text and Criticism. By Jack Kerouac. Ed. Scott Donaldson. New York: Penguin, 1979. 397-411.

Lorch, Thomas M. “Purdy’s Malcolm: A Unique Vision of Radical Emptiness.” Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature. 6 (1965): 204-13.

Purdy, James. Malcolm. London, New York: Serpent’s Tail, 1994.

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